Great Vietnam Partners
Southeast Asia: Vietnam.
Vietnam (Vietnamese: Việt Nam), officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, is a socialist republic in Southeast Asia. Situated in eastern Indochina—bordering China, Laos, Cambodia, as well as the South China Sea—it is the most populous country among the mainland Southeast Asian countries.
After the reunification, political and economic conditions remained difficult. Millions of South Vietnamese fled the communist government and became boat people over the next two decades. In late 1978 the Vietnamese army removed their former allies, the murderous Khmer Rouge from power in Cambodia. Only one month later, however, partially in retaliation, China launched a short-lived incursion into Vietnam, which became known as the Sino-Vietnamese War. Both sides claimed to have been victorious in the brief conflict.
In 1986, the Communist Party of Vietnam implemented economic reforms known asĐổi Mới (renovation). During much of the 1990s, economic growth was rapid, and Vietnam reintegrated into the international community. It re-established diplomatic relations with the United States in 1995, one year after the United States' trade embargo on Vietnam was repealed.
The name of the country comes from the Vietnamese Việt Nam, which is in turn a reordering of Nam Việt—the name of an ancient kingdom from the ancestral Vietnamese that covered much of today's northern Vietnam and southern China. Its Chinese cognate, Yue/Yuet, was also a name for ethnic groups living in the proximity of southern China during ancient times.
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The majority ethnic Vietnamese, also called Viet or Kinh, make up about 86 percent of the nation's population. They are concentrated largely in the alluvial deltas and in the coastal plains. A homogenous social group, the Viets exert influence on national life through their control of political and economic affairs and their role as purveyors of the dominant culture. By contrast, the ethnic minorities, except for the Khơ-me Crôm (Khmer Krom) and the Hoa (ethnic Han Chinese), are found mostly in the highlands that cover two-thirds of the national territory.
The Mường live in the mountains of north central Vietnam and speak a Mon-Khmer language closely related to the Vietnamese language.
The Tày people live primarily in the mountains and foothills of northern Vietnam. Their language is a member of the Tai languages, belonging to the Central Tai subgroup and closely related to the Zhuang language of southern China.
The Khơ-me Crôm live in the fertile delta of the Mekong River in southern Vietnam and are ethnically the same as the Khmer people who make up the majority of the population of Cambodia.
The Hoa (ethnic Han Chinese) are mainly lowlanders and, more specifically, urban dwellers. They speak predominantly Cantonese (known to the Vietnamese as Quảng Đông), but there are also speakers of Hakka (Khách Gia), Min Nan/Hokkien/Fujian (Mân Nam/Phúc Kiến), Chaozhou (Triều Châu), etc. Until the 1979 Vietnamese census, the Hoa were the largest minority of Vietnam. However, since the North Vietnamese took over South Vietnam in 1975 many Hoa left Vietnam, especially in the 1980s, so that at the 1999 census the Hoa were only the fifth largest minority (or the fourth largest if the Thái are not considered as a homogeneous ethnic group).
Beyond these five largest ethnic minorities, there are 48 other minorities officially recognized by the Vietnamese government, giving a total of 53 minorities altogether. Many of these 53 minority groups only have a few thousand members or so. Vietnam also has a small number of Eurasian from the French colonization and Amerasian of American soldiers and personnel. Furthermore, there are also a few of those descended from Indian settlers also during the colonial era. The biracial people, the products of Vietnam War, faced discrimination very much in Vietnam [often referred to as "Children of the Dust"; many have been migrated to the United States where, due to a lack of education in Vietnam due to discrimination because of their racial mix, assume low paying occupations and live at the subsistence level in the United States; most were migrated as adults and not as children].
Officially, the ethnic minorities are referred to as "national minorities". The French used the name Montagnard (plural Montagnards, meaning "mountain people") to refer to all the minorities (except the Khơ-me Crôm and the Hoa), no matter what their actual language. The name Montagnard is still sometimes used today. Sometimes, the name Montagnard is used specifically for the Central Vietnam minorities.
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